cover image All the Women in My Brain: And Other Concerns

All the Women in My Brain: And Other Concerns

Betty Gilpin. Flatiron, $28.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-79578-6

Emmy-nominated actor Gilpin, star of Netflix’s GLOW, explores in her animated if addled debut the disappointments and triumphs of being an artist and a woman in a world that’s indifferent to both. She grins and cringes through the different phases of her life, as the Marlboro-smoking child of actor parents in the 1990s who trudges through the pain of an eating-disordered adolescence in boarding school, then goes on to study acting at Fordham to make a career for herself. Working with the material of her own life as an actor—from familiar casting-call humiliations to overwork-induced muscle spasms—Gilpin critiques societal expectations that circumscribe creative women to docile beings, while suggesting that it’s the unruly parts of women’s minds that should be tended to as wellsprings of creativity. As she moves through reflections on loneliness, shame, and finding meaning in her work, she balances profundities with humorous looks at the more mundane parts of her life, including romantic blunders in an attempted open relationship (“I wasn’t the hardened, sex-positive, thousand-yard-stare poem I insisted I was”). Oftentimes, though, Gilpin’s quippy humor trips over itself, making it difficult to locate the point beneath the surfeit of zingers and extended metaphors that refer to her depression and self-doubt as nagging “brainwomen.” This one’s best left to the fans. (Sept.)